Purpose of review
The advent of calcineurin inhibitors have led to a significant improvement in short term outcomes after kidney transplantation. However, long term outcomes are hindered by the cardiovascular, metabolic and chronic renal toxicity associated with these agents. Belatacept is a selective T cell costimulation blocker that is approved for prevention of rejection in kidney transplantation, and has been associated with favorable cardiovascular, metabolic and renal outcomes in kidney transplant recipients. This review provides an overview of recent updates in the use of belatacept in kidney transplant recipients.
Belatacept may be a safe alternative to calcineurin inhibitors for select kidney transplant populations. Patients converted to belatacept from a calcineurin inhibitor-based immunosuppression generally experience improvement in renal function, and may be less likely to develop de novo donor specific antibodies or new onset diabetes after transplantation. Although, belatacept based immunosuppression may increase the risk of early acute cellular rejection, it may however be beneficial in stabilization of long-term renal function and improvement in inflammation in patients with chronic active antibody mediated rejection. These benefits need to be counterweighed with risks of lack of response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 vaccination and other adverse infectious outcomes.
Belatacept may be an alternative to calcineurin inhibitors and may contribute to improved long term metabolic and allograft outcomes in kidney transplant recipients. Careful selection of patients for belatacept-based immunosuppression is needed, to obviate the risk of acute rejection shown in clinical studies.